The general consensus of expert opinion is to place Charaka prior to Sushruta in respect of time. But the Puranas unanimously describe Sushruta as a disciple of Dhanvantari, the first-propounder of medical science. The long compounds (samasas) used by him, the prose and metrical portions of the Sushruta after the models of Jaimini, Patanjali, and other philosophical writers who had adopted prose or metre according to the exegetic or rationalistic tenor of the subjects in their works, have all been cited to prove Sushruta a contemporary of the Darshanas, or of Buddha. But these may serve, at least, to fix the date of the recension by Nagarjuna, i.e., the Sushruta Samhita as we have it, but can never help to determine the chronology of Sushruta, the disciple of Dhanvantari "who was churned out of the primordial ocean in the golden age (Satya Yuga) (3). On the other hand, if the testimonies of the Puranas have any historical worth, we can safely place him somewhere in the Satya Yuga, (age) at least in those dim centuries which immediately succeeded the composition of the Atharvan. Charaka, too. in connection with his discourse on the development of the foetal body has cited the opinion of Dhanvantaii (I) on the subject (the same as promulgated in the Sushruta Samhita) & referred his disciples to the Dhanvantari school of surgeons (meaning Sushruta and his school) in cases where surgical aid and knowledge are necessary; this proves that Sushruta was before Charaka.
(1) A. "The great works of Charaka and Sushruta were translated into Arabic, under the patronage of Kaliph Almansur, in the seventh century. The Arabic version of Sushruta is known by the name of "Kelale-Shawshoore-al-Hindi."' These translations in their turn were rendered into Latin. The Latin versions formed the basis of European medicine, which remained indebted to the Eastern science of medicine down to the seventeenth century." - History of the Aryan Medical science (Thakore Saheb of Gondal) P. 196.
B. For the indebtedness of Arabic school of Medicine to the works of Indian masters, see Puschmann P. 162.
C. Bedro'e. Book IV. Ch. II. 286 - 299.
(2) Dr. Wise (Hindu system of medicine).
Garuda Puranam. Chap. 142. Vs. 5-6.
Sushruta was emphatically a surgeon, and the Sushruta Samhita is the only complete ok we have which deals with the problems of practical surgery and midwifery. Almost all the other Samhitas written by Sushruta's fellow students are either lost to us, lor are but imperfectly preserved. To Sushruta may be attributed the glory of elevating the art of handling a lancet or forceps to the status of a practical science, and it may not be out of place here to give a short history of the Ayurveda as it was practised and understood in Pre-Suhsrutic times if only to accentuate the improvements which he introduced in every branch of medical science.